When marital conflicts accumulate, a separation or divorce is inevitable. A couple that seeks marriage counseling begins a journey to a better life together. During counseling, a couple redefines the relationship goals. The two also highlight individual dreams and desires to see how they can align with their goals as a couple. These sessions provide time for personal growth in communication and conflict resolution.
Who Needs Marriage Counseling?
Those who can benefit from counseling are couples who are facing:
A Communication Breakdown
Counseling helps a couple learn the communication style of each spouse. It also highlights how intimacy can help a couple understand their goals and dreams. From the sessions, a couple gets tools to improve their communication. Such include how to change the language and tone during an argument and the effect of appreciation on their self-esteem.
Accusations or Acts of Infidelity
Infidelity affects both spouses. The spouse cheated on may suffer from low self-esteem, depression, and post-traumatic stress. This destroys communication and intimacy and leads to a loveless marriage. On the other hand, the cheating spouse may suffer from depression arising from guilt.
Sometimes, the previous experience of one spouse may cause accusations of infidelity where the accusing spouse may have bad experiences from childhood. Other couples seek therapy because of pornography as opposed to a sexual affair. A counselor helps such couples discuss the root of the problem, and the strategies to address the triggers of accusations or addiction.
Lack of Intimacy
A sexless relationship, or one where the two do not spend time together, can affect how a couple communicates. Common reasons for a sexless marriage are stress, poor communication, and low libido. Either spouse may also be suffering from a disease such as sexual dysfunction.
A Loveless Marriage
Unresolved conflicts may lead to a loveless marriage. As the responsibilities increase, a couple may have less time to spend together. The feelings of anger and resentment lead to a conflict. Consequently, each spouse begins living like an individual, and the intimacy fades away.
A Couple Facing an Imminent Separation
Some couples seek professional help after a spouse serves them with divorce papers. For instance, one spouse’s decision may put the whole family in a financial crisis that leads to a breakup. One spouse may be contributing to the family income, yet the other spends all. In other cases, one spouse may have uncontrollable fear about money and lack of it. Counseling allows each spouse to air views on finances and looks at how to salvage the marriage.
What Happens During Marriage Counseling?
One of the priorities during couple counseling is to create a communication channel where each spouse can speak and listen. That way, the counselor eliminates the cycles of communication breakdown that accumulate marital conflicts.
Here are some of the main activities involved in a couple-counseling program
One-on-One Sessions with a Counselor
All programs offer one-on-one sessions. During the sessions, the couple explains what they think is the cause of the conflict. Sometimes, the issue they see as the problem may not be the cause so a counselor listens and finds a pattern. Usually, individual’s sessions are carried out before both partners come together. This helps evaluate the readiness of each partner to get marital help.
In retreats and seminars, there are exercises to strengthen the communication channels. These are fun activities that build a communication channel. As the couples work together, they see that conflicts are common in a relationship.
Related: How to Save a Crumbling Marriage
The speakers during married couples’ seminars range from married couples to psychologists. Each session covers a specific topic, and the most common topics are communication and intimacy.
In most out-of-town programs, a couple goes on a date on one of the nights during a marriage seminar. It is one technique to help a couple understand their talents, likes, dislikes, and have fun. In some programs, there are picnics instead of date nights.
How Does Marriage Counseling Work?
A crumbling marriage has a series of conflicts. The counselor uncovers these patterns. For instance, when a spouse works for many hours, it affects intimacy. Accusations of infidelity arise, and resentment grows, and in such a case, a loveless marriage is imminent. Through counseling, the couple can start working on the problems when they know what they are facing.
Every session prepares them for the process to a better marriage. Further, the decision to get help means a couple realizes there is a problem. Marital conflicts may have led to discussions about a separation, where to avoid that, and a couple seeks outside help to find a solution.
This outsider has the professional experience to help them solve the conflict. Usually, when the couple is discussing the issue at home, each spouse wants their views heard. None of them listens from the perception of the other spouse. Hence, a counselor listens and offers a non-judgmental interpretation, and each spouse begins to listen from the point of view of the other.
Related: How to Recover from a Breakup
When the cause of the conflict is in the open, real discussions between the couple begin. The counselor starts by highlighting some of the possible solutions. Next, the couple discusses the way forward together. Through continued discussions and implementation within a timeline, the relationship spark will rekindle. Skills to gain in couple counseling include anger management, stress management, and trust. Interpersonal communication is also a priority.
Not to forget, regular analysis after counseling catches new conflicts before they ruin the progress. For that reason, some programs offer follow-up counseling sessions. They also give assignments or suggest ideas for the couple to work together. For instance, a couple can schedule regular date nights or read and discuss books centered on relationships and marriage.
Counseling is an external, unbiased platform where a couple can address marital conflicts and discover underlying problems. A counselor has professional training in communication, family therapy and psychology. Some counselors also have experience in financial management to help couples with financial problems.
Depending on where you acquire marriage counseling from, you may either pay or acquire it for free. Some institutions like churches, mosques and NGO’s offer it at absolutely no cost. Whereas private professional marriage counselors may charge you about $100-200 per hour. Regardless of where you acquire it from, marriage counseling can help save a crumbling marriage.